Misery loves company

May 19, 2024

When will our dramas stop perpetuating the stereotypes of half-baked sadists and their often spineless victims?

Misery loves company

Is this a society where most people derive pleasure from the pain and misery that befalls others? If not, then why are most of the plays on television about individuals who, it seems, have nothing better to do than make the lives of their dear ones miserable? There’s enough misery in the world as it is. Do we need a daily dose of it from the television also?

Drama series Hasrat is a classic example. In it, Rubina Ashraf plays a character who, for some reason, enjoys making her daughter-in-law miserable. It’s another play that stars Muneeb Butt and Anmol Baloch showing Muneeb as a narcissist who loves insulting his wife. The cherry on top is, he has no qualms about cheating on her with other women. Anmol plays the long-suffering, helpless wife who stands by and watches silently. Women empowerment just went down the drain.

The fact that these plays garner high TRPs speaks volumes about the psyche of the average individual in this society. Are these plays a reflection of what is happening in the society? We all know that life is sometimes stranger than fiction. All of us, at some point or the other, have encountered individuals who delight in making other people’s lives miserable, whether at work or in our personal lives. We are all fighting our own battles and life is miserable enough as it is with skyrocketing inflation, crime and rampant poverty.

Television plays are watched in every household and TV is a far more intimate medium than the big screen. Lately, there has been an increase in the tendency to depict extramarital relationships, sadistic individuals, crumbling relationships and domestic violence quite insensitively. Has positivity completely disappeared from our society? Why is the drama industry hell bent on depicting problematic characters in plays without considering the repercussions it has for the society? Is negativity being promoted? What kind of message are such productions sending out? With more private channels cropping up, there is a huge demand for content but unfortunately, quality is being compromised.

Run-of-the-mill plays, stretched over umpteen episodes, always seem to strike gold at the box office. The more negative they are, the better they seem to fare. Actors can sleepwalk through their roles, no imagination, creativity or innovation is required and sub-standard scripts with the same hackneyed dialogues are churned out to insult the viewers’ intelligence.

Some TV actors, Muneeb Butt and Danish Taimur to name two, are typecast to be a part of TV productions which have nothing new to offer. Danish Taimur is often portrayed as the obsessive lover and the rich spoilt brat bent on getting his way. Muneeb Butt really needs to reinvent himself and experiment rather than playing it safe all the time and doing the same kind of roles.

But money makes the mare go and as long as there is a demand for such stereotypical productions, they will continue to be churned out with amazing regularity. It’s a win-win situation for those involved, translating into minimum risk and maximum return.

How long will it be before people begin to tire of such bogus TV productions? Will they never? How long will this formula work? With the cut-throat competition from OTT platforms, can production houses really afford to rest on their laurels and be complacent?

There is definitely a need to infuse some positivity in our plays and steer clear of conniving mothers-in-law, conspiring sisters-in-law and unfaithful spouses. Women need to take a stand by refusing to play the long-suffering wife or daughter-in-law. Visual media needs to be more responsible and cautious about the kind of messages being sent out to the society through stereotypical productions.

Let’s, as viewers, be agents of change and make an effort to shun all the toxicity we see around us. Let’s hope the media also plays its role and rather than showing so much negativity, aims for productions that are uplifting and empower females, encouraging them to stand up for themselves rather than playing hapless victims.

Enough of hackneyed storylines, one-dimensional characters and clichés being mouthed by actors sleepwalking through their roles. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee and shun the negativity. As viewers, we have a lot of power. We can boycott sub-standard productions.

Here’s to a fresh beginning.

The writer is an educationist and can be reached at gaiteeara@hotmail.com

Misery loves company